Stocks

Airtel in focus after sale of towers in Africa

Eswarkrishnan Chellam BL Research Bureau | Updated on January 20, 2018

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The stock of telecom major Bharti Airtel was in focus on Tuesday, reacting to the company’s announcement that it had entered into a definitive agreement with American Tower Corporation (ATC) for the sale of 1,350 communication towers for around $180 million. The stock fell around 2 per cent in trade. This deal has been signed through the company’s overseas subsidiary Airtel Tanzania and is expected to be closed in the first half of this year.

In addition, ATC will acquire 100 extra sites that are currently under development for further consideration.

Earlier in January 2016, Bharti Airtel — the third largest mobile operator in the world — sold 100 per cent of its operations in the Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone segments to Orange of France for around $900 million.

Prior to that, the company raked in over $1.8 billion by tower sales in nine African countries to reduce its debt. The company has been reporting losses in its Africa business since it entered the region in 2010, missing its own growth and revenue targets. The company’s consolidated net debt as of September 30, 2015, stood at around $11.5 billion.

In India, though, the company has been buying spectrum and investing in towers, preparing itself for the entry of Reliance Jio. Last week, it announced the acquisition of Videocon's 1800 MHz spectrum rights in six circles for Rs 4,428 crore.

Bharti Airtel posted Rs 71,572 crore of consolidated revenue for the nine months ending December 2015, a year-on-year growth of 4 per cent. During the same period the company posted a 7 per cent growth in net income of Rs 4,193 crore. Capital expenditure increased substantially by 19 per cent year-on-year to Rs 14,534 crore.

Published on March 22, 2016

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